There's no worse sight to a gardener than coming out on a sunny morning to find your hostas chewed to shreds and the slimy trail of the perpetrator mocking you among the torn leaves. The culprit? Slugs. Nasty little creatures that would sell their souls, if they had them, for a bite of your dahlia. You've tried drowning the little buggers in beer and poisoning them with commercial bait, but these hermaphrodite critters can produce up to 500 eggs in their 2-year lifespan. So what's a gardener to do? The answer is to use plants slugs don't like. If you can't kill them, you might as well at least put an end to the all-you-can-eat buffet.
What Do Slugs Find Unappetizing?
Despite their seemingly voracious appetite, one thing gardeners have working to their advantage is that slugs are notoriously picky eaters. So if trying to kill them off feels fruitless, you can stage a natural war by planting your garden with flowers the little slime balls find unappealing. Slugs generally avoid plants and flowers that are bitter, hairy or tough. Those with waxy, glossy or fuzzy leaves are unappealing. They also dislike plants with strongly scented foliage, such as lavender, where essential oils are released upon touch.
Annual flowers add a pop of summer colour to your garden, but who wants to spend their lazy days watching slugs grow fat on a diet of your petunias? Instead, opt for annuals that slugs detest, such as impatiens, sweet alyssum, cosmos, lobelia and forget-me-nots. Other slug-proof annuals include dianthus, nicotiana, sweet william, coleus and snapdragons.
While some perennials like hostas and primrose are a slug's delight, others, like astilbe and stachys (lamb's ears) are off the menu at the slime diner. Thankfully, there are many perennial flowers that slugs find unappetizing. Some of the more popular varieties include daylilies (hemerocallis), coneflowers (echinacea), foxglove (digitalis), sedum stonecrop and coral bells (heuchera), according to Dayton Nursery.
If you love hostas, don't despair; there are a few varieties of hostas with thicker, tougher leaves that slugs will not attack. These include 'Sagaea', 'Big Daddy', 'Tokudama', 'Blue Dimples' and 'Blue Plate Special'.
Certain flowering shrubs also make the list of antislug plants. Azaleas, hydrangeas, camellia and potentilla (buttercup shrub) are a few good choices to keep slugs at bay.